Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday weigh-in, July 31 2013: Not this week

No loss this week. Actually, I'm still up from last week.  I am also still feeling off from the race.

Per Heather's instructions with the tracker, I am not taking away the progress I made -- I'm just going to shoot to get below 176 next week to make up for this week. That way I don't have to redo my tracker.

Today's the last day of July already -- summer feels like it's almost over. I did my syllabus yesterday for one class, hoping to finish and post another one today. I have two classes in the first half of fall semester and one in the second, plus I'm working with a bunch of students on independent research projects.  And I'm the VP of Faculty Senate. It's going to be a busy year.

In the meantime, though, I'm going to make the most of that last bit of summer that's left.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Post-race: What now?

Picture is from a 2006 race

In the week or two leading up to a big race, everything is centered around being ready for it. I even stopped watching Breaking Bad for a few days because it was interfering with my sleep (I'm only in the second season, so no spoilers, please!). Usually I cut down my workouts a bit in that week leading up to the race. I took Friday and Saturday completely off working out.

It can be a little hard, then, to get back in the swing of things afterward. Sunday afternoon I was very tired and took a big nap -- it's sometimes hard to sleep the night before the race, so I was a little behind on sleep. I had a little more salty food to replace some of what I lost in sweat.

I woke up yesterday in quite a bit of pain -- my knees hurt and so did my toes. I took it easy most of the day but did a short walk in the morning and a longer one in the evening, about an hour total. I made sure to get back to logging my food and eating normally.

Today I plan to do something similar -- gentle movement only.  My knees still hurt -- I must have fallen on them when I crashed my bike, but I honestly didn't feel it at the time.  My weight is still up about three pounds from where it was before the race, hopefully mostly inflammation from my knees and the other soreness I have. I'm concerned about my weigh-in tomorrow, but even if I'm still up, I'm hoping that I can make up for it next week.

I'm considering getting a massage tomorrow -- I have a gift card for one.  I'll also get back to my regular exercise level, maybe a swim.

It's hard to feel focused since I don't have another race on my schedule. I had been considering doing the Women's Distance Festival 5K this weekend, but given the way I still feel, I don't think that's a good idea.  I might shoot for a fall 5K instead.

How do you bounce back after a race?

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Consult with your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program..."

Photo by

I understand in principle why people are advised to consult with a doctor before beginning a diet or exercise program. There are some terrible diets out there, and people who are sedentary can easily overdo exercise and injure themselves.  Back in college, though, I had a phys ed instructor who said, "They should tell you to consult a doctor before deciding to live a sedentary lifestyle." That really stuck with me.

Imagine if behaviors that are considered "normal" but that can be quite risky were flagged this way:

"Consult with your doctor before deciding to consume multiple sodas per day."
"Consult with your doctor before getting drunk this weekend."
"Consult with your doctor before going through the drive-thru."
"Consult with your doctor before watching a 'House Hunters' marathon."
"Consult with your doctor before eating a frozen dinner that contains 2000 mg. of sodium."
"Consult with your doctor before texting while driving."

Today I am feeling achy and sore. I couldn't tell yesterday, but when I crashed my bike in the race yesterday I must have landed pretty hard on my knees and my ankle is a little tender too. Just out of curiousity, I weighed myself and I am up a few pounds -- water weight from muscle soreness. Still, I know in the long run, training will make me healthier and lighter. My doctor would approve, too, since she did the same race yesterday.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Triathlon race report: Women's Only Triathlon, July 28, 2013

I had some knee problems early this year, and was not sure I would be able to continue my streak of participating in at least one triathlon every year since 2002 (a couple of those years, I did a swim leg in a relay). I promised myself that if I could, I'd be happy, no matter what my time.

I signed up for the Women's Only Tri knowing that I would not have much run training in the bag. The Fitbloggin' 5K was the first run of that distance I had done in quite a while, and most of my training runs were less than 30 minutes. I had done quite a bit of swim training, and some bike training, so I was really figuring the run would be the hard part.

Last night I went out with my husband for a prerace meal. I ordered a salmon entree that came with a side of marinara pasta, but for some reason the salmon just didn't appeal to me that much once I got it, so I mostly ate the pasta. I even had a glass of wine.

I was pretty nervous about the race, as usual. I had gotten a big triathlon backpack from Jesse for Christmas and I made a checklist of all the stuff I needed to have. I got all wrapped up in looking for a spare pair of goggles that I never needed.

For the race I wore my new trisuit with an Enell bra underneath.  I pinned my race number to my Team Toledo shirt and slipped that on for the run.

Setting up the transition area always makes me nervous. I got there early and was worried that some latecomer would squeeze in and mess up my careful setup.

We seeded ourselves for the swim. There were stairs with different time labels. The stair for the time I thought I would do, 9-10 minutes, was completely mobbed. I decided to put myeslf at the end of the line for the sub-8-minute swim.  It turns out that I passed 2-3 people during the swim, so I think I seeded myself correctly. My swim time, 10:48, includes a run up concrete stairs and into transition, so I think I was probably out of the water in less than 9 minutes.

It was a cold day so I took a little extra time trying to dry off before getting on the bike. Riding the bike while wet was chilly. I did not have my bike computer working so I paced myself completely by feel. Because I had gotten out pretty early, I didn't have a lot of people riding around me. I got passed by a few people but I also passed quite a few, mostly duathletes, who had started before me.

I had a mishap at the end of the bike ride. I was aiming to slow down gradually and get off near the dismount line, but a bunch of volunteers were yelling at me to get off way before it. I got flustered, stopped too fast and crashed. I didn't get hurt, but it was a bit embarrassing and frustrating and definitely slowed me down. I'm going to have to get my bike checked out and hope that I didn't damage the carbon fiber parts.

Everything else was pretty uneventful. The run was hard. I had biked pretty aggressively so my legs were tired, and my feet felt like lead. I walked the water stops and a few other stretches but mostly kept up a jog. I caught myself and realized I needed to stop and enjoy the experience.  I got passed by a lot of people on the run, many of whom I recognized from the bike.  I did manage to enjoy it anyway. A woman passed me and said, "this sucks, doesn't it?" and I was puzzled. It was a pretty typical 5K course, other than that we went through a parking lot and around a soccer field for part of it.  I just wished I had more energy. It was also hard to tell how much further I had to go.

I saw that if I pushed it, I could finish before the clock turned to 1:31. I figured that would give me a sub-1:30 race time since I wasn't the very first to start.  I pushed it in with what little sprint I had left.

My goal for this race was to finish feeling good. I had gotten the Skratch Labs sports hydration and had some before the race and some on the bike. During the 5K I made sure to only take water, no sports drinks, so I could see how my body reacted to the Skratch. I'm happy to report that I had no GI distress at all.

Below are the race results for my age group, 40-44. I'm number 96. For the purposes of USAT age groups, I am 43 years old. I finished 15th in my age group and 92nd overall. I was especially happy with my performance in the swim. I finished 6th in my age group in the swim and 37th overall, so I think I seeded myself correctly.  I was 13th in my age group in the bike and 63rd overall with a time of 39:05 for 11 miles. My 5K time was 35:23, for a pace of 11:25 per mile. I was 23rd in the run in my age group and 132nd (out of 166 finishers) overall. My final time was 1:28:47, so I met my goal of a sub-1:30 race.

I'm happy with it. My goal is to stay injury-free and continue to improve on the bike and especially the run. I think that I did well, especially considering my training challenges.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ohio Active story: It's official, I'm an athlete

One of the pictures they didn't use, but that I love. This is me with Jesse at the Mad Anthony River Rally

The Ohio Active story that features me as an everyday athlete is up. I just spent a few minutes going through old posts to make sure I didn't say anything that would be too damaging or negative, because since it uses my real name and links to my blog, and even mentions my workplace, chances are that my worlds are finally going to collide.  I think it's okay, really. The one bad thing is that my students could potentially see my weight numbers, which would be a bit embarrassing but not the end of the world. They know what I look like, so it's unlikely they would be surprised that I might want to lose a few pounds.

I like the way the story came out.  I was surprised when I was approached by the editor to do it. I think of myself as active but I still don't think of myself as an athlete. I could list a whole bunch of incidents that made me think of myself as clumsy and unathletic, but I'm not going to, because I have been running for more than 20 years and doing triathlons for 12 years. I have done three half-marathons and a couple of 50-mile-plus bike rides. I think I've earned the right to call myself an athlete.

I like the idea of "Everyday Athlete," because it suggests that it doesn't take superhuman efforts or dedicating your whole life to training. I do sprint triathlons and 5K races, mostly, and most likely will never do a marathon or an Ironman, or even competently play any sport using a ball. I'm still an athlete.

I kind of like it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wednesday weigh-in, July 24: Another one gone

Actually, 0.6 down since last Wednesday, but I'll take it.  Next week, however, I'm going to have to either lose 2 pounds or redo my weight chart.  I'm rooting for the former. My triathlon is Sunday, so who knows what that will do. I had someone ask me once how much weight I lose doing a triathlon, and I just gave them a puzzled face. That's not really the point. The training might help me lose, but not the race itself. The race is a big stress which could temporarily even cause a gain because I will need to work so hard on rehydrating and getting my body back into balance afterward.  It's on Sunday, so hopefully any weight weirdness will settle down by Wednesday.

I feel like I have hit my stride and gotten to a place where this isn't so difficult. Part of that is that I'm fit enough to train harder.  With the start of our CSA, we are eating a lot more veggies.  I also haven't been traveling or going out to eat much, which helps a lot -- cooking at home seems to be key. I'm so sodium-sensitive that one restaurant meal can put me up 3-5 pounds. But I haven't made any big, drastic changes. I have just been gradually working on making good choices. And I'm also not feeling as anxious about it all. It's going to happen.

In other news, I am going to be featured in Ohio Active, At online fitness magazine, as an Everyday Athlete. They found me through , where I gave them a little lip about being too focused on The Three Cs -- in Ohio it seems like everything is about Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.  I didn't expect to be representing for Toledo, but I'm happy to do it. The story should come out tomorrow. I will post a link. I don't tend to think of myself as an athlete, but I guess it's official now.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: An introduction to the Gwynnie Bee fashion subscription service

"Something for me?"

Note: There are referral links to Gwynnie Bee in this post. Like all subscribers, if I refer a friend to the service through my link who becomes a paying member, I get a free garment upgrade.  Otherwise, though, this is an unsolicited and uncompensated review.

Like many people who are trying to lose weight, I have been keeping a tight range on my clothing expenditures. There's no point in spending a lot of money for clothes that I am planning to "undergrow." There are a couple of problems with this strategy, though.

First, I have been trying to lose the same 20 pounds for the last 6-7 years. There was no way I could completely avoid buying clothes, so I was buying "good enough" clothes most of the time.  This means stuff like t-shirts and stuff from the clearance rack. Plus, I often have to dress up for work events, so I have been wearing the same things over and over. I have to be careful about what I choose to buy because I will be wearing it a lot.

I always feel better about myself when I'm wearing something cute and new. The few times I have splurged on something cute and worn it to an event, people notice and compliment me. That feels great. And I believe that it is important to this weight-loss process, not to mention to my general sanity, to feel good about myself. I was a bit of a fashionista in high school and early college, using money from my part-time jobs to buy cute and fun clothes. I don't have an unlimited clothing budget or unlimited closet space, and it would feel wasteful to me to buy a bunch of clothes and not wear them, but I am getting so tired of feeling frumpy and boring.

I'm currently trying a free trial month of Gwynnie Bee, a fashion subscription service that seems like it could be a solution for a lot of my clothing woes.  The tagline is "Clothing without commitment," because it allows subscribers to have a huge virtual closet of clothing.  It operates a bit like Netflix -- subscribers choose from different plans (and prices) depending on how many items they want to have out at a time.  Subscribers browse the collection, select items that they like, select their size (based on size charts for each brand) and put them in their closet. Once a minimum number of items are "closeted," new members are sent a box with their first items, depending on the plan they chose. Currently the service is available only for plus sizes, though there are plans to expand to more sizes.  I originally hadn't thought that I could participate, because I wear misses' sizes, but for the purposes of this service, that means sizes 10-32.  I currently wear a 12-14 and at my very smallest adult size, I could sometimes squeeze into an 8, so I could participate in this service even at my goal weight.

I chose a three-item plan, and I just got my first three items in the mail yesterday.  The box came with a personal note from a Gwynnie Bee staffer and special prepaid blue envelopes for returning items when I want to exchange them for something new.  They handle all the laundering, so I don't even have to wash or dry-clean them. In fact, what made me want to try the service was Emily's post about conference fashion. She said she was able to send her clothes back right from the conference when she was done wearing them, which seems amazingly convenient for travel (something I do quite a bit). The prepaid envelopes can be placed in blue United States Postal Service blue collection boxes, or dropped off at a post office. Though I had to give my credit card number for the free month, I won't be charged unless I fail to return an item or if I decide to continue after the trial period.

Bye, pretty dress! I hope we meet again.
The clothes arrived looking brand-new, with special tags indicating care instructions (in case I decided to launder anything myself). They were all high-quality items I had chosen myself. I tried everything on right away and found that the gorgeous black-and-white graphic wrap dress didn't fit right -- I was sent an XL but apparently needed the L in this item. I loved the dress I thought about ways to make it work, but then I remembered that I could just send it back and get something else.  It seemed like a good way to see how well the service worked for me. I indicated in my closet that I was returning it unworn so that Gwynnie Bee can start the process of sending me a new item.  I also made sure to recloset it as a Large so that I could potentially get it back again in a size that fits.  There is a place for private feedback directly to the company and also for users to share reviews with other subscribers. I did both.  I then dropped it off at my post office, though I could have just sent it from a mailbox two blocks from my house. Because the packages are tracked, I could be sent an item while the old one is still on its way back, and I wanted to see what I would get next.

Though the dress I returned would have been my favorite if it fit, the other two items are really fun.  I will probably keep them long enough to wear each one a couple of times.  The first is an orange tank with a fabric belt, which would look great under a cardigan or a jacket. The other is a dress I would never have bought for myself, but wanted to try because it looks fun. It's much different than the styles I usually wear, but I think it will be fun to wear for a casual summer event. Of course I had to do a little photo shoot. I created . The white cardigan, capris, and shoes pictured are my own.

So are there any drawbacks to Gwynnie Bee? I hesitated at first because if I ever cancel, I won't have anything to show for my subscription fees. If I had spent that money on clothes, I would still have the clothes. My husband actually talked me into trying it, because the subscription fee is relatively low to always have something new to wear.  Also, I can change the sizes on the clothes in my virtual closet as my own size changes.  Obviously nothing can be custom-fitted, and I don't get to try anything on until it is sent to me.  The only other drawback is that I don't get to choose what is sent to me -- I could be sent anything from my closet. I might think the black-and-white tank in my closet would look really cute with the pink skirt, but I may never get them at the same time to wear them together. This service is not for someone who wants to have a tight control on her wardrobe, it's for people who are willing to take a little bit of a chance on some new things without a lot of commitment.  The closet includes dresses, skirts, tops, cardigans, and blazers -- no pants, jeans, or shorts. That makes sense since those items are the hardest to size without trying on. That means I will still need to keep a stock of basic pieces in my real-life closet. The Gwynnie Bee clothes are just a supplement to add variety.

That all seems okay to me. I have always felt like I was lacking cute tops and special-occasion clothes. There are enough items in the collection that I can easily meet my minimums with only things I would love to try.  If I get sent something that doesn't work, I can always send it back and get something else. If I get something I really love and want to save it for a special occasion coming up, I can keep it as long as I am a subscriber.  There is also the possibility of buying something from the collection if you really love it and want to keep it. I'm enjoying choosing items that are a little out of my comfort zone, since I can try them and send them back if I don't love the way they look on me. I also selected a lot of dresses, since they are a complete outfit on their own or with a basic cardigan.

Like I said, I'm in the middle of a free trial month. Gwynnie Bee offers this as a no-risk way to see what you think about the collection.  If you want to try it out, go to the site and browse the collection, then request an invite for your own free month. You will get an email with instructions on how to start your trial.

I am expecting to stay on for a while. Maybe when I get to my goal weight, I'll feel like building a new wardrobe, but until then, it will be nice to rotate pieces in and out of my existing one.

Update on October 9, 2014: Gwynnie Bee is no longer offering a free trial month.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Encouraging comments -- are they really encouraging?

There was a very popular post earlier this month called "Not All Runners Live in a Size Zero Frame." The author said that she noticed another runner, a man in his early thirties, "shorter and overweight," and decided that she should encourage him:
So as I passed him for the third time I smiled and said “You are rockin it!” and kept on my way.He wasn’t going fast… in all honesty he was more shuffling than anything but you could TELL that was his run.
The writer said that he smiled back at her, so he must have felt encouraged by her comment. The post was about not judging others and not stereotyping them, which is a great message, so I'm not at all trying to attack the writer, but I have been thinking about this post for weeks because I have been on the receiving end of comments like that and I don't feel encouraged by them.

Does that sound weird? Here's why someone saying "You are AWESOME!" when I'm feeling terrible about how I'm doing doesn't encourage me -- because it's insincere. I know that they are saying that exactly because I am not looking awesome. The other runner is not acknowledging a fellow runner out there doing the workout from a place of equality.  They wouldn't say that to another runner who is running the same speed as them, or even someone faster. I know they are saying it to me because even though I'm not technically plus-sized, I'm heavier than most runners.  I always get very red when I run and people take that for a sign that I am unfit. An overly-enthusiastic comment makes me think they think I am a beginning runner even though I have been running for more than twenty years. That doesn't feel good. It feels terrible, actually. I try to remember the intention, because when this happens I can feel very angry.

Like I said, I don't think that this writer intended to be mean or condescending, and, as I said, the other runner apparently responded well to her comment.  We're not all the same. Maybe he's not as neurotic about wanting to feel like part of the crowd as I am. But I suspect a lot of other runners would feel the same way I do.

When I was searching for this post I found blog posts called "how to encourage plus-size runners." My suggestion is not to think about how to encourage a plus-size runner. Treat runners of all sizes as if they are other runners. Smile, nod, wave, but don't go overboard with praise. Wasn't that the message of the post, not to judge?

The truth of the matter is that we don't rock it every workout. None of us do.  Some workouts are just to get out there and put in the time. That's totally okay. I think that the true sign that you love something is that you are willing to do it badly. It's easy to feel motivated to go out and ace a workout, but some days I feel like crap and I know I'm going to run like crap but that I just need to do it anyway. I don't even wear a watch when I train because I don't want to get too hung up on my pace. After having several issues with injuries, I'm just happy to be running.

I don't mean to overanalyze all of this. If you happen to see me out running, don't be afraid to wave. I'm just another runner, after all.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

What I did this week: July 15 to July 21

 I scaled back a little from last week, and took a couple of days off this week.  I'm going to taper off for my race next Sunday and keep most of my exercise sessions a little shorter. All my training is in the bank now, so rest is the best thing I can do.

Monday: Walked, did my physical therapy exercises, and did a bunch of weeding
Tuesday: More weeding, open-water mile swim (where I broke my trisuit)
Wednesday: More weeding
Thursday: Run/walk workout, more weeding.
Friday: 40-minute road bike ride
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Ran 27 minutes, walked 10.

New tri suit

Old trisuit: RIP
If you read about my wardrobe malfunction during my last open-water swim, you know my old trisuit is no more. I thought it was only a couple of years old, but I actually bought it in 2010.  I know this because I took it back to REI yesterday and they looked it up on my membership. I had bought it at the REI in Ann Arbor, but I returned it to the REI in Northville.

REI used to have a ridiculously generous return policy. They used to have a lifetime guarantee on all of their products. About a month ago, that policy changed.  I looked at the stuff in the "Garage Sale" area of the Northville store, and I know now why they changed it. People would apparently wear shoes until they were all scuffed and muddy, and then return them. They would wear a shirt until it looked old, and return it.  Now they only have a one-year guarantee, and normal wear and tear is not covered.

The cashier nicely explained all of this to me and took my old trisuit back anyway, with a slight price adjustment, because I had never returned anything to this store.  I do think that the zipper breaking was a defect, especially since I only wear the suit a couple of times a year -- it's not like I walk around in these things every day. They aren't exactly the most flattering garments ever.

Danskin suit: Amazon Affilate link
I had told myself I was not going to buy another Zoot suit, because their stuff always runs so small and because of that zipper problem. In trisuits, though, there are only so many options. I did really like a Danskin suit I saw, but they didn't have the right size. Fit is the most important thing, since I don't want extra drag or chafing.

I tried some separates too, but they made weird lumps and bumps and I was afraid of having the top ride up when I was swimming or running.  As unflattering as a one-piece spandex suit might be, a two-piece suit with a tight waistband is worse.

Zoot had really made some great updates on the suit since three years ago. For one thing, they changed the styling -- instead of looking like a top sewn to a bottom, the suit now has side color panels and color on the back. There is a mesh back panel, which should help keep me cooler.  They got rid of the tight elastic bands at the bottoms of the legs, which I never liked.   They replaced them with a looser, wider band that doesn't squish.  And most importantly, the zipper looks more sturdy. Plus, it is cut just right for me. It isn't loose but not quite so incredibly tight, which should put less strain on the zipper.

I wear a trisuit not because of its looks, but because it's very functional. I can wear this for whole sprint race with a sports bra underneath not have to make any clothing changes, except shoes. I will add a race belt (like in the pic above) with my number for the run so I don't have to poke holes in the suit. We are not required to wear the number for the swim or the bike.  I will be given bike numbers and I will be inked with my number for the swim (as above. The blood in that picture is from a mosquito bite).  I really only wear it for racing and for a couple of practice sessions just to make sure everything is feeling okay. I'm really glad that I tested my old trisuit -- imagine if it had broken like that during the race! I am going to try this new and improved one in swim practice on Thursday and hope all goes well. 

New trisuit: Let's hope the zipper holds!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Review: Oral-B Deep Sweep electric toothbrush

Note: This blog posts contains Amazon Affiliate links

I recently won an  (affiiliate link) in a contest from the Prime Beauty Blog.  I thought I would provide a review here in case anyone is thinking of buying a similar item.  This is a completely unsolicited review and I am giving my honest opinion about the pros and cons.

I was really happy to win the toothbrush. We have a small bathroom without a lot of counter space, so I was reluctant to buy something that was going to require charging, but winning one meant I could try it for free and see if it was worth the space it took up.

I had been thinking about getting my teeth professionally whitened. My teeth are very healthy, but I am a coffee drinker and I had some light staining, and there is a scratch on my front tooth that tended to get darker than the rest of the tooth, which I really didn't like.  I had just gone to the dentist for my yearly checkup and polish and had asked about the cost of whitening there. It was about $100.  I said I would think about it.  My dentist recommended  (affiliate link) as something that might help in the meantime.  I also was already using  (affiliate link), which had at least taken care of the darker line on my tooth. The toothpaste helped, I had been using a different whitening toothpaste but this one seemed to do a better job.

Then my package arrived with the new toothbrush, with one brush head. Oddly enough, the day it arrived, my husband came back from his dentist appointment saying that they told him he needed to do a better job of brushing his back teeth, and he was going to have to go back in 6 months.  I bought some  (affiliate link) so he could try it too. I figured that the electric brush would probably do a better job on the back teeth.

This is what the package looks like. As you can see, I also won a toothpaste, which I tried, but it was just toothpaste. I didn't think it did as good a job of whitening as the Rembrandt, so I put it in the cupboard for those times when we run out of toothpaste and need something in a pinch.

There are a lot of reasons to like this toothbrush. For one thing, it has a guide that prompts me to brush for two full minutes, which is a lot longer than I would normally brush my teeth. I still have my manual toothbrush for those days when I don't want to spend two full minutes brushing (plus a couple more minutes cleaning up, more on that later). I tend to brush my teeth at least two or three times a day, so I use the electric toothbrush for one of those sessions and the manual toothbrush for the other times. One unexpected bonus of the guide is that it is a digital clock when the toothbrush is not in use. I never realized how handy it would be to have a clock in the bathroom, but when I am getting ready for an event I now know how much time I have before I need to leave. It does take up counter space, though it is also wall-mountable (basically, it comes with a big piece of tape to stick it to the wall).

It has a pressure guide, too, which flashes a red light when it senses that I am pressing too hard when brushing.  I have been told by the dentist that I do this, and that my gums have receded in certain spots because I have been overdoing it. I always buy extra-soft toothbrushes to compensate, but it's better not to attack my teeth in the first place.

My dentist has told me that he can tell I am left-handed, because there is a spot I tend to miss when turning the toothbrush around. Most people do this, apparently. Because the toothbrush is doing the work of brushing for me, I do a better job with all my teeth. I notice that it's easier to clean the back teeth, too. It's hard to get a good brushing motion back there with a manual toothbrush. I'm hoping my husband will get rave reviews at the next dentist's appointment if he keeps using the electric toothbrush.

Between the better brushing action and the new toothpaste, my teeth feel just like they have come from a cleaning at the dentist's office after I brush my teeth. I am very happy with the results. My teeth are much whiter and I am no longer thinking about professional whitening.  This means that even if I had paid for the toothbrush myself, it would have been worth the cost.

Now for the cons. I am not sure that, if I were buying an electric toothbrush myself, that this would be the one that I would choose. The brush has a sort of "pause" button on it, but it isn't a long enough pause for me to take the toothbrush out of my mouth and spit. It starts back up after maybe two seconds, spraying toothpaste all over the bathroom and me.  I would like it to pause until I pressed it a second time. I could turn the toothbrush on and off, but that would make the brush time guide worthless. What I thought was the pause button actually changes the brushing setting. Turning the toothbrush off does not reset the timer.  The toothbrush has a tendency to spray toothpaste all over the bathroom and me if I'm not careful with it. This seems to be a side effect of the "Deep Sweep" motion, which is supposed to simulate the brushing motion of a manual toothbrush. However, I think there is no reason that an electric toothbrush needs to simulate this motion. I'm not sure that a rotating head would make less of a mess, but I am going to try the  (affiliate link) brush heads next time to see.  I think an electric toothbrush should simulate a dentist's tool, and the brushes that they use rotate.  It is nice that there are a variety of choices for this same toothbrush base.  There are 8 different brush heads that will work with the Deep Sweep.

Finally, if I were buying an electric toothbrush, I probably wouldn't have needed all the features that come with this one.  I don't change the setting on the brush from its default, so the  (affiliate link), which is 1/3 the price, might have been enough for me. It doesn't have the brush-time guide/clock, though.  The 5000 also comes with a nice case to store extra brush heads, which may not be part of the base setup on the 1000.

Overall, I am thinking that winning this prize saved me quite a bit of money, made my teeth look much better, and may help both my husband and I keep our teeth cleaner and avoid expensive dental work.  Thanks, Prime Beauty!  If you have not checked out this blog yet, it's a great resource on beauty and health for women over 40 with lots of great product reviews and giveaways.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: Skratch Labs Sports Hydration

As I was going through my mental checklist to prepare for my race in a couple of weeks, I realized that I needed to solve a problem that has been bothering me since I started doing triathlons.  I need to take in some kind of sports drink during the race, but all the ones I have tried have given me some unpleasant GI effects.  I find the taste of Gatorade and Powerade disgustingly sweet, but drinking just water while sweating in the heat does not work well for me -- I lose a lot of salt when I sweat and it takes me a couple of days to feel right after a race.

I Googled "Sports drink GI distress" and, after a little poking around, came across a story about Skratch labs. The writer complained about the same problems that I had, and the way that Skratch labs had approached this problem:
I found the company's website and checked out their list of retailers. Luckily for me, BikeWerks, a cycling shop just a few miles from here, was listed as a retailer. At $19.95 it seemed a little expensive to me, until I realized that this packet was the equivalent of 20 16-ounce sports drinks. And at 80 calories for 16 ounces, I didn't have to worry that I was going to overdo it on sugar if I started trying it during my training.

I mixed up 16 ounces to drink before my run today, and even though it was 86 degrees, I felt pretty good after running.  No GI distress, no headache. For a short run like this, I would never use a normal sports drink, but since the calories and sugar content of this are so low, I thought it was worth it to practice.

Of course the real test will come during my race. I will update this post then. Updated: I did my race with no GI distress after using Skratch Labs sports hydration in the days leading up to the race and during the race itself. Granted, it was cooler than usual for a triathlon, but my face still felt gritty from the salt I lost through sweat, so I consider this drink a success. I also didn't get sick of the taste, which always happens when I drink the super-sweet commercial sports drinks. I'm sticking with SkratchLabs.

I like their approach to postrace reccovery, too. Instead of offering some kind of weird protein drink, Skratch has two cookbooks, one for portable food for during and after a race, and one for everyday. I just ordered both books and as a bonus, got a free pound of drink mix. I just found one of the recipes online, if you want to get a sense of what they're like. I will review the books after I have tried some of the recipes.

As Skratch Lab's Allan Lim said in his interview with the Philly Enquirer, "Until we could figure out a way to make a protein recovery drink that tasted as good as a bowl of chicken-fried rice, we'd keep making chicken-fried rice." 

This is a food philosophy that works for me. No weird bars, no creepy protein drinks -- just food that looks like food.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday weigh-in, July 17: Down 1.8

 Success! I managed to stay focused this week. Having a weekly goal definitely helps. I am a big believer in the power of writing things down on paper.  I don't know why I didn't think of that before -- for some reason paper still feels more real to me than electronic writing.

It's good that I lost a little more, too, so that it will be easier to hit next week's goal. I'm going to use different-colored markers each week so I can see my weekly progress.

One pound a week seems like a reasonable goal. That was the trouble with DietBet -- to hit my goal, I had to lose almost two pounds per week for a four-week period, which is not easy.  One pound I can do.

Getting back my A1C test relieved a long-standing worry for me. Even though my fasting glucose tests have always come out okay, I had that nagging thought that it would not catch insulin resistance if I had that.  Apparently I don't, since 4.5, my result, is toward the bottom of the recommended range (4.4-6.4).  All my stats are pretty stellar: cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar. I'm healthy even if I am overweight.  That means that the weight loss is mostly about aesthetics, though I do think that carrying less weight would be better for my joints in the long run.  Aesthetics have always been a big part of my real motivation anyway.

I had somewhat embarassing moment yesterday. I wanted to practice swimming in my trisuit and my Enell bra since that was what I planned to wear for my triathlon in a couple of weeks.  I had a little trouble with the zipper when I was putting it on -- it got out of alignment and I had to fiddle with it to get it zipped. I'm really glad that the Enell is reliable, because the zipper came unzipped during the swim, and when I tried to fix it (still during the swim), it broke.  (affiliate link for illustration purposes only, obviously I don't recommend this suit). Luckily, with all the hooks, I knew the Enell would hold up.  I was only halfway around the pond, so I had to keep swimming with the whole front of my suit completely open.  I finished and held the zipper together while I ran for my towel. I only bought this suit about two years ago, so the fact that it broke makes me a little mad, considering I may have worn it four or five times at most.  I bought it at REI, which has a very generous return policy, so I'm hoping to exchange it for something else that won't result in indecent exposure. If they don't have anything, I still have my old purple suit and can wear that.

Okay, goal for next week is to be in the 177s.  I just noticed that I messed up my chart and skipped 177... I may have to redo it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Endocrinologist visit

I saw my endocrinologist yesterday for my yearly thyroid checkup. He is very good about answering questions, so I asked him about whether going gluten-free would help with my Hashimoto's. He said because I am suppressing the thyroid completely with medicine, the question of whether something like that would help my thyroid work better is moot. All my thyroid hormone comes from the pill I am taking.

The good news is that my thyroid nodules have shrunk, not grown, because I am taking such a high dose of medicine. My weight has also gone down 5 pounds since we talked last year, and though that is not stellar, it was enough that even fully clothed, after breakfast, my BMI is below 30.  Small victories are better than none.  He asked me about my habits and was happy to hear that I exercise almost every day.

I had some blood drawn for testing -- not only thyroid but also, because I asked for it, a diabetes screening. I have always done fine on a fasting blood glucose test, but he is going to do an A1C test because of my family history. I have a couple of relatives with very serious complications from diabetes. Hopefully it will be an all-clear.

I have been thinking that, even though it doesn't seem like it, my weight has been a gift of sorts, because it has motivated me to make a lot of changes to my habits. In my 20s, I wouldn't eat vegetables except a very few, I ate mostly simple carbs, was not at all aware of or interested in protein, and did not exercise.  If I had been one of those "lucky" people who don't gain weight easily, I may never have changed. There are relatively thin people who get diabetes.

My habits aren't perfect, but they are pretty good: I exercise almost every day, mostly at high intensity.  I center my meals around vegetables and make sure to get lean protein. I minimize sugar.  I buy sprouted bread and whole grains. I don't keep junk food in my house. I track my calories.  I drink a beer or a glass of wine now and then, but it's not a big thing for me, so I usually skip it and save the calories for food.

I could definitely improve by having less carbs and doing better at keeping those habits when eating outside the home.  Those are definitely the areas I'm working on now. There was a special event on campus yesterday so I made sure to have a filling lunch at home before going, and so I only sipped water instead of being tempted by the buffet. There was nothing good for me on it except a few raw veggies. I'm definitely working on it. Having a weight goal for the week has definitely helped. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

What I did last week: July 8 to July 14

I'm starting to feel like I'm in a good place with my training, and my knee seems to be holding up.  I am taking an easy day today, as I had a pretty intense week last week and I am doing another open-water swim tomorrow. I will probably go out for a walk after I finish this post. I might see if my husband wants to do a bike ride later in the day. 

I see the endocrinologist for my yearly thyroid appointment at 11:30, plus this year we are doing an ultrasound to see if the nodules have progressed at all. Hopefully they are staying tiny. I won't have to do a biopsy unless they have significantly changed.

  • Monday: Open-water swim, about 1 mile. I counted it as 30 minutes but I didn't time it. Also rode my cruiser bike to and from the swim, for another 40 minutes or so.
  • Tuesday: Run-walk workout, 20 minutes of running and 15 minutes of walking.
  • Wednesday: Outdoor bike ride on the road bike, 50 minutes.
  • Thursday: Run-walk workout in the morning, 20 minutes of running plus 10 minutes of walking. Another open-water swim/bike combo in the evening.
  • Friday: 90-minute ride on the road bikes.  
  • Saturday: Pilates Circuit class.
  • Sunday: Run-walk workout, 25 minutes of running and 10 minutes of walking.
You may notice a lack of a strength-training routine -- still have not gotten into the habit.  I hate getting sweaty after I have taken my shower for the day. That's a lame excuse, I know.  I do think the swimming, especially the open-water swimming, builds some strength. The Pilates Circuit workouts are all strength, but I should be doing something 3-4 days a week. I just haven't found something that works for me yet.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

It's a jungle out there

I finally was able to get someone out here today to service our sprinkler system. The previous owners of our home had it put in, and even though a sprinkler system is the last thing we need right now with all the rain we have had, getting it fixed has been on my to-do list for a long time. If we ever sell our house, having a sprinkler system in good working order will be a selling point.  A broken one, not so much. I haven't done anything with the garden this year -- never planted any flowers, never put down any mulch, and more importantly, never weeded. And it shows. It has been raining a lot and when it hasn't been rainy, it has been sunny. We have a jungle out there.  A real gardener would probably look at our yard in horror right now. It made my heart sink when I realized how much there is to do.

I spent almost an hour ripping out weed trees, ivy, and weeds while the sprinkler was getting fixed. I also found out firsthand that the sprinkler system was working again when I got caught in the spray.  Even after all the work I did and the huge garbage-can of stuff I pulled out, it's still not done. I have to work on it a little at a time, and be more consistent about it. My husband said he will help, too.  I need to find our yard waste pickup schedule and get a sticker for this year.

This year, I decided, I'm not even going to plant anything new, I'm just going to clear out some space, prune the bushes, and maybe put down some mulch so that new weeds don't take root.  It's sort of like decluttering -- you don't redecorate while the house is still a mess. We do have some nice hydrangeas, a rhododendron, some hostas, lupines, echinacea, lavender, irises, and a few lilies. I think that it all will look a lot better with some room to breathe.  I am thinking of it as an opportunity for a little bonus activity.

Maybe next year, when it's not looking so terrible, I'll get some annuals in and post pictures.

Friday, July 12, 2013


Note: This post contains some Amazon Affiliate links

Sunday will mark 11 years since this photo was taken at the finish of my first triathlon. I think it was the summer of 2001 when I started thinking about doing a triathlon, but it's hard to remember exactly. I know that when I started my Ph.D. program in the fall of 2001, I mentioned it in my introduction and that I got a lot of help from a classmate and a faculty member who had been competitive swimmers, because I really didn't know how to swim.

I had seen the Sylvania Triathlon bikers riding by my house -- the first race was in 1981. So it was something I had already heard of when I read (Affiliate link) and realized that it was possible to do something shorter than the race I remembered, and that there were all-women's races that might be friendlier to beginners.

That first race was a pure joy -- you can see it in my face. I wasn't sure I could do it at all, so I trained hard and stayed motivated. My focus was completely on doing the race -- I thought that if I was destined to be fat, I could at least be healthy and athletic. I also saw a nutritionist, figuring that if I was going to train hard like this, I should probably try to be healthier.  This, not a diet, was how I lost the first 30 pounds.  Then I joined Weight Watchers and lost another 15-20.

About a year later, I joined Team Toledo, which was mostly composed of very serious triathletes, though there were some members who were beginners like me. Having a group to train with helped me, but I also started to compare myself to the other athletes. Some of them look like gods and goddesses walking the earth. It  was easy to feel inadequate. My husband was also racing very competitively at this time and was in a "no pain, no gain" mindset, which definitely rubbed off on me.

I did the full Sylvania Triathlon in 2003. I had a very hard time with the heat and I don't think I trained enough to be really ready for such a long race.  I felt very bad when I finished and thought there was something seriously wrong. I went to the medical tent and they said I was just overheated and dehydrated.  They ran cold water over my back from a garden hose and made me drink a lot.  I went back to sprint races for a while and then tried Chicago in 2005 -- it was another very hot, very hard race.

I continued to train and do races, but somewhere along the line, the joy went out of it for me. I lost the beginner's mind and started to worry about my times. I never felt fast enough, and I regained some of my weight and started to feel too fat to be part of a triathlon club.  I'm not sure when I quit, but it was around the time that I started working on my dissertation in 2006. Looking at my race history, I didn't do a triathlon myself in 2007, though I did . I did the swim, and also walked with her and the rest of the group for the 5K. In retrospect, the fact that someone I knew had been rendered a paraplegic when training for a triathlon scared me a lot. That was also the year I graduated with my Ph.D., so I had serious writing time to put in -- I didn't really have time to train for a race. I did some running, but mostly just to blow off steam from my long chair sessions.

I kept telling myself that I was going to rejoin Team Toledo when I was thin enough to belong. I did start swimming with the Sylvania Masters, which has a lot of Team Toledo members.  Last year I paid my dues but never went to anything.  This year, I have been going to the open-water swims. I'm still pretty heavy and self-conscious about it, especially in my bathing suit, but I am tired of sitting on the sidelines and waiting for the day that I will feel like I belong. No one has said anything to me and, since there are a lot of new members, a lot of people probably just think I'm one of them. The club has gotten a lot bigger and there more different body types, so I don't stand out like I used to feel like I did.

Someone who knew me way back when gave me a big hug yesterday, and said "It's good to see you back." I am glad to be back, and it is nice to be missed. I love the open-water swims and I wouldn't have any other way to do them without this club. I might not be able to get rid of the occasional feeling that I'm too fat and slow, but I don't want to let them boss me around anymore.  I'm 42 years old and not getting any younger.  If I want to keep doing this sport, and I do, I'm going to have to accept that slowing down a little might be part of that process.

This time around, I want to keep that beginner's mind. It's okay to push myself, but it's not okay to make my races a test of my worth as a human being. No one but me really cares what my time is.  I am, at best, a midpacker, and there is nothing at all wrong with that.  I'm just happy to be here.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Feeling motivated again

I have been listening to the Half Size Me podcast -- it's amazing how having a new podcast in my ears helps motivate me. Many of the podcasts I love seem to be taking an extended hiatus  I miss Fat 2 Fit Radio, I'm getting some kind of download error on new episodes of Inside Out Weight Loss and I'm not even getting started on Two Fit Chicks and a Microphone.  Lucky for me, Half Size Me is an old podcast so I have a nice cache of episodes before I have to worry about not having anything to listen to for a while.  I have been toying with the idea of starting my own, but I have a lot to learn first.  I want to be able to edit and correct for sound differences between an interviewer and interviewee -- the kind of stuff that can bug me a bit listening to some of the podcasts I like. 

The great thing about Half Size Me is that it makes me think -- if a mom who was 170 pounds overweight was able to do this (with three small kids to chase), why can't I get serious and just do what I need to do to lose this stupid 25 extra pounds?  I can.  So as dorky as it seems, I downloaded the weight tracker from Heather's website, printed it, filled it out, and hung it on my fridge.  Each week as I weigh in I will evaluate what I am doing well and where I could improve.  I'm tired of being stalled. It may be hard to average a pound a week, but as I said, each week I will see if I can do one small tweak to make things better.  I have a lot of places I know I can improve.

I'm not surprised that June was a bad month for me.  All that traveling definitely got me off-track, and then I didn't get back on track again.  I also have been taking a higher dose of my allergy meds with all the pollen this summer, and I know from experience that this could be part of the problem.

It's funny how it looks so doable, broken down one pound at a time like that. If I could average a pound a week loss, I could be at goal by Christmas.  


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Weigh-in Wednesday, July 10: Still the same

I'm the same as last Wednesday, which is actually a relief because earlier in the week my weight was up.  In the last couple of days, I have been working on getting my calories down and my veggies up, but it probably hasn't been long enough to show up on the scale.  

My netbook has some kind of charging problem, so I have been blogging from my iPad using the Blogger app.  It works pretty well, but I can't edit my photos, which is why they look so big. I have a new charger on the way -- this will be the third one for this netbook.  It didn't cost much, so if the new charger doesn't help, I may buy a new laptop rather than spending the money to have someone look at it. I hate Windows 8 with a red-hot hate, so I might actually spring for an Apple.  Maybe it will last longer than the netbook did.

I had my nephew overnight last night, and I am so tired. I don't know how moms with young kids do anything except chase their kids around -- especially moms with multiples.  It makes me very, very thankful for birth control. I think every politician who tries to argue against its availability should have to spend a few weeks alone with two or three kids under the age of five.

Monday, July 08, 2013

What I did last week

I am planning to do an all-women's sprint triathlon at the end of the month, and I have been ramping up my workouts in preparation.  After the race, my focus will shift back to food and weight loss, though I am going to, of course, keep working on it.
What I did last week:

Monday: Off
Tuesday: Open-water swim, one mile. Biked to and from on my cruiser bike
Wednesday: Walk-run workout, 15 minutes of running and 20 minutes of walking
Thursday: Off
Friday: Swam laps at the JCC's outdoor pool, 30 minutes. Did a short physical-therapy-type weight session
Saturday: Pilates Circuit class
Sunday: Walk-run workout, 20 minutes running and 15 minutes walking. Did an evening walk with my husband around our neighborhood

Goals for this week: Incorporate Sworkit workouts and write a review, continue to train. I just got back from a 30-minute swim at the JCC pool and plan to go bike riding tonight if the weather allows. And, of course, try Sworkit for the first time.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Recipe: Buttermilk-Corn Soup with Fresh Thyme

.Adapted from Health magazine, July/August 2013.

There used to be a wonderful restaurant in Findlay, Ohio called Revolver, so named because the menu would change with the seasons according to what was fresh and available. My husband and I only got the chance to eat there once, in the summer, before it closed and the owner went on to other ventures. Since then we have been sighing fondly over the Sweet Corn Bisque that we had there as one of our courses.

This recipe in Health looked promising, so I tried making it today. I made some adaptations because I didn't want a smoky, Southwestern-inspired soup, I wanted something that tasted just like fresh sweet corn, but better, like the mythical soup from Revolver. I substituted fresh thyme for the shrimp, and left out the other spices, except the salt and fresh-ground pepper. I also substituted a tablespoon of butter for one of the tablespoons of olive oil. I also like smaller servings of soup, so I plan to divide this into five instead of four. Calories and stats are above in the Lose It! screenshot.

Edited ingredients list:

3 cups of sweet corn kernels, cut from the cob (about 4 ears)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cups of buttermilk
1/4 cup half and half
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon (or to taste) salt
1/4 teaspoon (or to taste) black pepper

First, I had to cut the corn kernels off the cob.  If anyone has a way to do this that doesn't make a splattery mess, please let me know. I finally put my cup measure into my sink and cut the corn into it, which was the neatest method I could find.  It was still messy and some of the corn got into the sink instead of the cup measure.

Then, I warmed the oil in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven over medium heat and added the onion and the fresh thyme.  This is the point where I got the idea to add butter to the mix instead of the third tablespoon of oil called for in the recipe.

Once that was melted, I let the onions soften a bit and then added the corn kernels and salt. I sauteed the corn mixture for about three minutes.

Then I removed the pan from the heat and added the buttermilk.

The recipe called for putting half of this mixture into a blender to smooth it out. Instead, I pulled out my trusty stick blender. I wanted a pretty chunky soup so I only blended it for a little while.

And then I ground in some fresh pepper. I like a lot of pepper.

It was time for a taste test.  We both agreed that with all the buttermilk, it was a little sour. I added a quarter-cup of half and half to sweeten it. I might have used regular milk, but I don't have any. I only have the half and half for my coffee. I didn't think vanilla-flavored almond milk would work, even if it is unsweetened.

That little bit of sweet cream made a big difference. I am chilling the rest of the soup for later, but I had to finish my little sample bowl.  It's not quite the soup we had at Revolver, but it's a pretty good substitute.  

I will probably try a few other recipes, but not until I find a better way of getting the corn off the cob.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07